Too often we hear about a lack of minorities with PhDs as the justification for the typically low percentage of minority faculty at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) but what if that is not statistically correct?! In 2017 as per the Survey of Earned Doctorates, which is conducted by the National Science Foundation, it was found that 6.7% of African Americans earned doctorates that year. Hispanics earned 7% of doctorate degrees in 2015, which is an increase of almost 2% and the number of Native American and Alaska Natives who earned doctorates has also increased. But when I review data for my local PWI it is similar to many other PWIs, whereas only 5% of faculty are African or African American, 4% are Hispanic and 1% are Native American.
While we are seeing an increase in minorities obtaining doctorate degrees we don’t necessarily see that translate to an increase in minority representation within the professoriate, specifically at PWIs. We know that the demographics of America are changing and that minority student representation at PWIs is increasing but those students are not necessarily seeing anyone who looks like them in faculty positions or even positions of power on campus. Representation is important and something that needs to be studied/discussed as it relates to career choices.
Going on campus at my nearby PWI I do see minority representation in the janitorial staff, administrative assistants and food service workers but not in the faculty. The red herring is that minorities don’t obtain doctorate degrees but the statistical data doesn’t support that idea. If I look at my locally Historically Black College I see the vast majority of the faculty are of color (Hispanic, African or African American) and have doctorate degrees. I do recognize that the School and Department matter regarding representation as well as the location of the university/college. Typically we see more minority faculty representation in the School of Education even at PWIs, due to historical reasons, majoring in education guaranteed employment due to the segregated school system. Have you worked at a PWI and had a great experience, a bad experience or was it mediocre? How does culture and climate impact our experiences at PWIs?